The Travel Troubleshooter: Maybe the price guarantee isn’t all-inclusive?

Question: I am writing to complain about poor service I received in connection with Travelocity’s price guarantee. We recently returned from an 11-night trip to Cancun, Mexico. Our package, which included airfare and accommodations at the Valentin Imperial Maya all-inclusive resort, cost $4,615.

About a week before we left, I found the exact same package on Travelocity for $1,170 less. I filled out a form on its site and followed up several times by email. I sent screenshots as proof. Each time they responded they claimed to have not received the proof. Finally, I posted the proof to a website to be sure they could see it.

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Last night, I called Travelocity and was told they would get back to me in a few hours by phone. They did not. I have always been happy with Travelocity’s service — until now. Why is this such a problem? Travelocity has a guarantee. Is it asking too much for them to honor it? — Steven Estrella, Fort Washington, Pa.

Answer: You qualified for Travelocity’s price guarantee, which promises a $50 coupon and up to $500 back if you find a “qualifying” lower rate up until the day before you check in. Travelocity should have processed your claim — or at least responded to it — promptly.

Here’s a link to the full guarantee.

It appears that the proof Travelocity needed never arrived. You say you sent the files several times, but Travelocity’s representatives say they never saw them. Rather than simply resending the files, you might have considered reducing the size of the files. Often, email spam filters block large images.

Still, it’s unlikely that the files sent through the form, email and finally posted to a website, were all rejected by the system. Instead, it’s far likelier this was an electronic hiccup on Travelocity’s side.

I’m given the impression from dealing with many price guarantee complaints (not just Travelocity’s) that these types of requests aren’t assigned a high priority. As with any travel business, a lot of effort is expended on quickly processing your purchases. It takes only a few seconds to remove the money from your credit card account, but weeks, months and even years to return it.

What incentive — other than making a customer happy — does an online travel agency have to expeditiously refund the money under a price guarantee? I can’t think of one.

You took all the right steps by sending your request through the site, then by email and finally posting the evidence of the bargain online. I have a few contacts at Travelocity on my site that might have been useful.

I contacted Travelocity on your behalf. A representative emailed you and offered the maximum $500 refund, plus a $50 voucher toward future travel.

2 thoughts on “The Travel Troubleshooter: Maybe the price guarantee isn’t all-inclusive?

  1. Travelocity falsely advertises prices: charges higher prices
    online and through customer service than advertised.

    I attempted to book a round trip flight from LAX to San Juan Puerto Rico. The
    prices of all the flights appeared as $490.40, but at the end the prices ranged
    between $513.00 to $590.00 (not including tax).

    I called customer service to help. The claim that the data
    is not updated quickly was used. The service agent then booked my flight…he
    also got the $490.40 ticket, yet he also had to overcharge me; $513.00 not
    including tax. Not only was I overcharged, but I also had to pay a fee for
    using their agent (silly me thinking their agent would have the true price).

    I find it incredible customer service agents are not able to
    get the price advertised as well.

    I find this unethical and have filed a complaint with the
    Better Business Bureau.

    My complaint may fall into deaf ears both with travelocity
    and the Bureau…but if no one documents their illegal practices, they will
    continuously get away with it.

    BTW, this is not the only time it has occurred.

    1. I am not one to defend OTA, but their fares are not what we call live.  Even with the airlines, what you see on the screen isn’t live inventory.  Their international fares may not include the security fee, which is very common to add on to a base fare.  Not seeing the linear I can’t verify what happened, but it isn’t false advertising, it is consumers not understanding what they are seeing and then expecting someone who know nothing about fares that answers the phone call to figure it out.  They are only order takers and nothing else.

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